The EMS Medication Index

During most MedicCast podcasts, I cover one or more medication, or class of medications.

This index has moved and been combined with the tip index page.

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As you review the list of medications and tips on that page, you might wonder why I have included medications that are not in the EMT or paramedic’s med bags? The patients we encounter in the EMS field are taking a lot of medications. Especially those elderly patients who make up the biggest percentage of our ambulance transports. Understanding what effects those common medications or medication categories have will give you a tool to use when you are taking a patient history or trying to understand an unusual patient presentation.

An Example of Medication Side Effects:

Let’s say a paramedic or EMT encounters a 60 year old man following a serious motor vehicle accident with apparently minor injuries and relatively normal vital signs. This patient is ok, right?

Wrong!

What is the patient’s medical history? In fact, what is the SAMPLE history across the board. When you check this patient’s medication list, you find that he is taking beta blocker and calcium channel blocker medications. Knowing how these “non-paramedic” medications affect patient systems physiologically will help you understand a patient’s ability to react to things like multi-system trauma and shock.

This patient’s normal vital signs might fool an EMT or paramedic who doesn’t understand commonly prescribed patient medications. You know, however, that patients on cardiac medications and anti-hypertensives are unable to compensate for shock by increasing their heart rate and contractility. This patient should have an elevated heart rate in an anxious situation and if they are injured internally, their vital signs won’t show the normal intial response of tachycardia and hypertension.

Steps to Make an EMS Medication Study List

I recommend that you divide and conquer when approaching your studying. When learning new medications, you should learn them one or two at a time. Try this sequence to master your EMS medication studying.

  1. Make or acquire a list of the medications you need to know from your instructor, textbook, or jurisdiction.
  2. Create a flash card for each medication with the name of the medication and it’s other names (brand name or generic name) on one side.
  3. On the other side of the flash card, add the category, indications, contraindications, side effects/precautions, and for EMS meds the common dose or dose used by your protocols or jurisdiction.
  4. Download the relevant episodes below and listen to the medication segment of the episode (usually about half way through the show).
  5. Use a combination of listening to medication episodes and reviewing your flash cards until you have mastered the information.
  6. Add more medications, a few at a time until you have mastered your entire list.

More Study Aids & Tools for EMS Students

The MedicCast Extra offers additional resources for the EMS students out there who are interested in gaining an edge over their classmates in studying or for those EMT and paramedic students who are looking for help when they are floundering in school and in danger of not succeeding. The paramedic and emergency medical technician study aids found at the MedicCast Extra include:

EMS medication audio files

EMS video flash cards for EMTs and Paramedics

ACLS study guides

NREMT Exam preparation tools

NREMT medications study tools

The meds are listed below in alphabetical order. Study them when you are driving to work, doing chores, and other “down” times when your mind is free but your hands and eyes are busy.

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MedicCast Tip Index